It’s just been confirmed by Adam Schefter: The Vikings have parted ways with left tackle Bryant McKinnie a day after McKinnie reported to his first practice out-of-shape, or hurt or something – still waiting on the details – and was placed on the NFI list. The Vikings will go forward with Charlie Johnson protecting Donovan McNabb‘s blind side. The Bryant McKinnie era is over in Minnesota and to be honest we probably could’ve predicted that it would one day end this way. If McKinnie fails to catch on with another team, well, he’ll have a lot more free time to devote to his record company and his eating.
McKinnie was originally drafted by the Vikings 7th overall in 2002. The massive rookie left tackle started right off irritating fans by holding out for 98 days, finally coming to terms with the Vikings on a five-year deal worth $13.5 million. McKinnie made his first start on November 17, 2002 and remained in the starting line-up the rest of the season. This would be the beginning of a consecutive starts streak that lasted until the beginning of the 2008 season when he was suspended four games for violating the personal conduct policy. After returning McKinnie began another streak that remained in place until his final game as a Viking in 2010.
Controversy dogged McKinnie for all of his Vikings career. In 2005 McKinnie was arrested along with fellow player Marcus Johnson after an altercation at a gas station. Also in 2005, McKinnie found himself at the center of the defining moment of the Vikings’ first decade of the 21st Century, the infamous Love Boat incident. That affair left McKinnie facing charges of disorderly conduct and ultimately a fine but not a suspension from the NFL. McKinnie found himself on the wrong side of the law again in 2008 when he was arrested after brawling with a bouncer at a Miami night spot.
In 2009 McKinnie experienced perhaps his most embarrassing moment as a Viking when he was kicked off the Pro Bowl for not showing up to practice. McKinnie had been considered a borderline Pro Bowler for most of his career before finally breaking through after the Vikings’ NFC Title Game appearance that year, and was believed to be grateful for the belated acknowledgement. McKinnie would defend his absences by claiming illness, but few bought the excuse.
In recent years McKinnie has become a compulsive tweeter, often posting about his night club activities, his exploits as the head of a record label and his tennis sessions with his friends Venus and Serena Williams. Seldom has McKinnie ever tweeted about his rigorous off-season training, his attempts at improving his eating habits or his passion to excel at pro football. He will go down in history as a really good run blocker who never developed the pass blocking skills to match, possibly because he didn’t care enough.